Food Sovereignty Ghana

A grass-roots food advocacy movement of Ghanaians both home and abroad!

The View From the Third World

Here is another article from 2007 but it lays out the green revolution
problem quite clearly. It is by Canadian economist Ian Walsh,
He published The View From the Third World in 2007 at Firedoglake

The current green revolution in Africa is exactly the same old 20th
century economic hitman style advice, with the poisonous addition of
genetically modified seeds and organisms, being used to extract more
resources from Africa at the expense of Africans.

Post independence, in order to generate cash needed or desired for a
variety of reasons, developing countries were advised their greatest
resource was land, on which they could grow cash crops. Unfortunately,
the kind of western high yield agricultural techniques necessary for
most cash crops eliminate jobs and displace farmers, who then move to
ever expanding slums in the cities. Meanwhile, during the last decades
of the 20th century a number of developing countries were getting and
following this same cash crop advice, glutting the commodities markets
and driving down prices.

The ensuing lack of cash was treated as a failure on the part of the
developing country, which was urged to work harder, borrow more, and
spend less in ways such as cutting food subsidies for the people whose
livelihoods have been eliminated.

Welsh writes:

“So you’ve gained hard currency, but you’ve lost jobs, most of which
will never be recovered. The multiplier effect (the number of jobs
created to serve primary jobs) is damn near zero, because the fancy
new plantations and huge farms use machines built elsewhere, run on
oil pumped elsewhere, need to be repaired by expats who were trained
elsewhere, the fertilizer comes from oversees and even the seeds
probably even come from overseas.
. . .
So, at the end of the day, by following the advice of western experts
you’ve destroyed your rural economy, gone from a country which could
feed itself to a net importer of food, created huge slums around your
cities, increased the instability of your country – and haven’t
. . .
When citizens of third world countries talk about how the West in
general, and America in specific, is keeping them down, this is much
of what they’re talking about. It’s an economic system, which while
sold as a benefit to the third world countries following the
prescriptions, coincidentally worked out to provide very cheap
commodities to the first world for decades, allowed quite a number of
loans to be made and didn’t lift a single country I can think of out
of poverty.
. . .
Those loans were made with the aid of experts who made pretty explicit
claims about how things would work out for the better. The common
excuse is that “corruption” is why they failed, but even in countries
where there was little corruption, they failed. . . . Thirty years
later the locals were worse off than they were before the loans were
made and the advice was followed.
. . .
And meanwhile, in Asia, countries that didn’t follow this path –
countries that built up industry behind trade barriers, didn’t try and
convert their farmland into cash crops – countries that rejected the
advice of the western experts, who didn’t accept the loans – they’re
the ones who have lifted themselves out of poverty. The lesson, one
might say, is clear. Beware Westerners giving advice. It’s not that
the advice doesn’t work out to someone’s benefit, it’s just that that
someone isn’t you.”

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